My Passion for Boston

My Passion for Boston

Boston-area Bible Worker Craig Kavanaugh reflects on Adventist ministry in the city of Boston, and why it means so much to him.

As a convert to true biblical faith, the Lord has seen fit to show me many wonders of His grace and mercy unto the sons of men. The Lord Himself personally called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light through His direct intervention and the leading of His Holy Spirit by way of many signs and wonders, ultimately leading me to His remnant church in March 2010. I praise God that He would bestow such a privilege upon a broken sinner like me.

As a former worldling and outsider come into the Truth, I have been blessed to be able to bring a fresh perspective and view of the Seventh-day Adventist church that might be harder to perceive for those who have been blessed with being born into this church. I recall soon after my conversion that when I would ask others at church if they had always been an Adventist, if they would answer yes, I would half-jokingly and with a tinge of godly jealousy say, "Ahhh, the golden ticket." While this ought to be the case, and for some indeed has been, I have come to find that for many this intended blessing from the Lord has become somewhat of a curse, in that many in our beloved church are Adventist not necessarily by choice, but rather due to familial relations and traditions. Also, all too often like the Jewish nation of old, what began as an admirable attempt to avoid contamination by the world has led Adventists to become cloistered into echo chambers of those with similar views and beliefs, but being cut off from the very ones to whom God has bidden His people to witness and reach with Truth.

Another aspect of the church that I have witnessed is the wonderful diversity of its membership, especially here in Boston, where the churches are filled with a rainbow of colorful members from nearly every country under heaven. My home church, Boston Temple, fits this description most perfectly, with our current congregation consisting of a heritage that numbers more than 45 nations of the world. What a blessing this diversity of experience and perspective brings, and what an amazing testimony that God's grace and salvation extends to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, and how He alone can bring and knit together such a diverse tapestry through His great love.

Among this diversity, most are immigrants and transplants to the Boston area, drawn to our city either by our many colleges and universities, or by our robust immigrant communities. And I thank God that it is so, for were this not the case, many, yea the vast majority, of our churches here in the Boston area would be nearly empty, as so precious few local Bostonians are in the faith. Which brings me to my next thought.

I am a life-long Bostonian, born in Salem and eventually raised in Ipswich. Further, I have lived directly in the city of Boston or its immediate outskirts for more than the past dozen years. I love Boston, not just because it is a great city, but above all else because it is my home. But for a couple of very brief interludes in my life, I have known no other home. Nearly everyone whom I have ever known and loved lives in the greater Boston area. Thus, when I think of Compassion Boston, my emphasis is on the passion in compassion, and it is very personal. My desire to reach souls for God's kingdom here in Boston is not only because God would have it so, bidding us to witness for Him wherever we are, but because I have a very special burden for this city that God has laid on my heart. I do not witness to my fellow Bostonians merely because I have to obey God's great commission—rather, I give of myself in witness and service because my very being burns with the great gift of love from God for the inhabitants of this community. They are not merely my neighbors; they are my dearest loved ones.

Many others in our church have a burden for mission, seeking far afield among the many missionary destinations around the globe to go forth in service for the Master. But my mission field is right here, right where I daily live, work, eat, and sleep. The local park, the grocery store, the homeless shelter, the back yard, the streets and sidewalks are my mission field. And the lack of this mindset among many of my dear brethren has been a source of continual frustration, many tears, and much prayer for me since my conversion. Far too many view this city as just another of countless locations where they might live out their Christian experience; and if and when they receive a not-so-inviting welcome or response, some are all-too-ready to cast the dust from off their feet and seek another city in which to labor. For far too many of my church brethren, Boston is not home, but just a transitory waystop on a road and journey that leads elsewhere.

But not for me. As long as I have breath and probation lingers, I will not cease to labor to reach the precious souls of this city and its surrounding communities that are perishing for want of Truth. Many other places in the world are worthy mission fields—yea, every single place where humans can be found; but for me Boston is the critical mission field that needs faithful and dedicated workers just now. The northeast of the United States, where the Advent message began, today represents perhaps the most godless area in the country, yea the world! Precious souls, yea my closest friends and loved ones, are living and dying every day here in this city for want of the Truth. And my heart breaks together with angels and God Himself to see the seeming indifference, lethargy, and stupor in which many of God's professed remnant stumble through each passing day that brings us one step closer to eternity.

One gentle rebuke that I on occasion share in love with my fellow Adventists is that when I converted in 2010, God had to personally call me out. No one ever witnessed to me. No one ever knocked on my door. Not one piece of truth-filled literature ever crossed my path. And I had been earnestly seeking for Truth for a long time prior to my conversion (be it in all the wrong places). I was educated in some of the top institutions of learning in the world here in Boston. I had studied to various degrees about nearly every single religion known to man, but not only had I never learned about what Seventh-day Adventists believe, I had actually never even heard the phrase—“Seventh-day Adventist”—in forty years of living here in Boston up to that point.

By the grace of the Lord, this dearth of information sharing and witness cannot continue in a business-as-usual fashion. We must do more!

Soon after I converted, somewhere along the way of my new journey of faith in Christ, be it either in a sermon, an online lecture, or in reading the Spirit of Prophecy, I soon encountered a quote to the effect that we ask too little of God in our prayers and petitions, limiting the omnipotent God of the universe from doing the great things in and through our lives that He longs to accomplish {3T 209.1-209.2}. By God's grace alone, I took this admonition to heart, and I lifted no small prayer unto the Lord; I claimed the promise of God's mighty redemptive work for Boston as testified to by Jonah regarding Nineveh. I said to God, "If you could save the whole city of Nineveh in times of old, thou assuredly are able to save the whole city of Boston alive in these last days. Use me Lord, as thou used Jonah; here am I, send me!" I still believe God is able and willing to save this whole city, every one alive; and I intend to hold Him to His word, for He is a man of His word!

Oh my sincere, but perhaps wayward or doubting fellow Seventh-day Adventist brothers and sisters, will you not join me in this prayer, and in moving out in faith to labor together with God that we might marvel as He brings it to pass before our very eyes? In these last moments of earth's sordid history, as the darkness descends upon us and yet the day breaketh, let us stand up together for Jesus, before He stands up from His judgment seat. And may all the glory be unto our merciful Savior, as we sow broadcast and reap a bountiful harvest for eternity!

Oh, will not you join me in standing up for Jesus in Boston? 

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.
— George Duffield, 1858

With loving compassion in Christ, your brother,

Craig Kavanaugh
Bible Worker, Boston Temple and Braintree Seventh-day Adventist Churches